Ten Things to Plant in Early Spring
Updated: Jun 8
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As soon as the temperature starts creeping up to around 60 degrees, my fingers get itchy to go dig in the dirt! I’m immediately ready to plant! However, we usually still have several below-freezing nights ahead, so most plants wouldn’t survive.
Did you know that there are actually many cold-tolerant plants that can go outside this time of year?
For starters, vegetables in the brassica family and root vegetables are cool-weather vegetables. These veggies do not like heat! Most brassicas are also very prone to pests, and get eaten up in the summertime! Early spring planting and fall planting are ideal for these veggies. I’ve been amazed in my own garden at how these vegetables thrive in the cool spring weather. My spinach will be frozen solid in the morning, and by midday, thawed out, and healthy as ever!
A few things to note about planting:
Wait until the threat of snow has passed. A few inches of snow sitting on a plant for a few days will definitely harm even the healthiest cold-hardy veggies.
If you still have frequent frosts at nighttime, you may want to start these indoors, and then move them outside once the temperature stays above freezing. Even cold-hardy seedlings can freeze and not recover when they’re very young.
I’m pretty lazy, so instead of starting these inside, I take bed sheets and cover my seedlings up in the beds if I know it’s going to freeze at night. I just take the sheets off in the morning.
As soon as the seedlings are in their adolescence, they’re fine to leave uncovered in the cold nights.
For reference, I’m in zone 7b, and I usually start getting these plants out in mid-March, when it's frosting less and less at night. Watch the weather in your area, and look for the above markers to know when to plant.
10 Vegetables to Grow in Early Spring:
I've linked seeds in each category just in case you'd like my recommendation of which seeds to buy online. I always try and purchase heirlooms and organic.
Carrots are very cold tolerant, and if you live in a moderate climate (minimal snow), they can actually also be planted in the fall and grow during the winter. Carrots tend to be sweeter when they’re grown in the cold. The plant drives more energy into the root during cold weather, producing a sweet, delicious carrot! Direct sow these, as they are root vegetables, they don't like to be transplanted.
Kale does not do well in the heat! These plants thrive in the early spring! They also do well in the fall and can be over-wintered if you live in a mild climate or cover them. If planted in early spring, about mid-summer they start to get eaten up by bugs. I like to try and save a bit of kale during the summer to let it bolt and go to seed. I collect the seeds to plant during the next season!
Spinach is definitely a cold-hardy plant! I’ve had spinach leaves grow as large as my whole hand in the early spring! I like to plant these around mid-march and then enjoy fresh spinach salads and smoothies through June! Usually in June, the spinach starts to yellow and wilt and/or go to seed. If you can catch it before the heat gets it, harvest it and freeze it to enjoy later.
Lettuce can do well in the summer, depending on the variety you plant. However, most lettuce varieties begin to wilt in the summer and/or get really bitter. I prefer to plant my lettuce in the spring, and enjoy it while it’s crispy and sweet! Later in the summer, I let my lettuce bolt and save the seeds. My personal favorite variety is buttercrunch lettuce. I seriously plant butter-crunch lettuce every single year because it's delicious. Instead of producing a single head of lettuce, buttercrunch lettuce will grow more like kale, on a stem. Meaning, you harvest at the base of the stem, and as the plant grows taller, you have more fresh leaves to harvest.
Beets, like carrots, are root vegetables, so they do well in the cold. Like carrots, cold weather makes the plant drive its energy to the root, producing yummy, sweet beets! Direct sow these, as they are root vegetables, they don't like to be transplanted.
Cabbage is another vegetable that is VERY prone to pests. It can be grown in the summer, however, it can be difficult to keep it alive long enough to harvest after the bugs come out. It’s also cold-tolerant and can stand a few light frosts.
Broccoli can be a tricky vegetable to grow. It’s a slow grower, and very pest-prone, so oftentimes, if planted in the summer, the pests will get to it before it produces any broccoli. Broccoli is a brassica, so it is cold-tolerant and can be planted in the spring.
If you thought Broccoli was tricky, meet Cauliflower! Cauliflower is very similar to broccoli, except for the white or purple head it produces. In the summer, with all the pests, the white beautiful cauliflower heads can turn a weird brown/yellow color and be small and bitter. Like broccoli, plant this brassica in the early spring to avoid pests.
Onions are one of my favorite vegetables to grow. These veggies can tolerate a frost, so it’s good to go ahead and get them in the ground early. Onions are a staple in my house, so I like to grow a lot, and then store them to eat all year! Unlike other root veggies, I would recommend starting these inside.
Sweet peas and snow peas are my personal favorite crop to grow in the spring! I grow these every year for an early yield and they’re like a sweet, crispy greeting from spring! They’re great eaten straight off the plant in the garden, mixed into salads, on a charcuterie board, or if you let them get bigger, shell the peas, and have regular old peas! I like to eat them in all forms, but lately, I've really enjoyed shelling the peas and freezing them for later. Trust me, they taste SO much better than store-bought frozen peas!
There you have it! 10 things to plant in spring! All of these are cold-tolerant and can survive the frost of early spring. Just so happens, most of these veggies also do really well in the fall and into the winter! See my list here of 10 vegetables to grow during the fall and winter months!
Want to learn more about gardening? Visit the homesteading section of my blog! I talk about all things gardening, soil health, and even garden infrastructure like building fences and rain-catchment systems!
Is there anything I should add to the list? What's your favorite veggie to grow? Let me know in the comments!